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Five ways to trim your waist
Azmina Govindji
RD MBDA
4 June 2013
  • A smaller waist size can give you significant health benefits. Get into shape and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease with these five easy tips.

  • People whose waist is bigger than their hips are at greater risk of certain chronic diseases. Photo: FybridPhotos / Marta Rybak People whose waist is bigger than their hips are at greater risk of certain chronic diseases. FybridPhotos / Marta Rybak

    If you haven't had time to keep yourself active over the past few months, chances are your waistline has expanded. But here's a novel way to start your new healthy lifestyle – forget about dieting!

    Dieting tends to be a short-term activity that might get you quick results, but the results don't always last. Success in the long term happens when you make positive lifestyle and behaviour changes – those small changes need to be realistic.

    Top Five Tips

    Dhals are low in energy density so they can help you manage your weight. Photo: Vanessa Courtier Dhals are low in energy density so they can help you manage your weight. Vanessa Courtier
    1. Take your waist seriously. There is a wealth of research that suggests that people who have more abdominal (or tummy) fat, where their waist is bigger than their hips, are at a greater risk of conditions such as metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Don't just look down at that tight waistband and feel helpless: give it some serious thought and take action. Research suggests that losing even 5 – 10 per cent of your body weight could reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Decide today to take that first small step.
    2. Eat little and often. Regular meals are important; however, drinking a glass of water before every meal and including planned healthy snacks in between meals can help take the edge off your hunger. You will notice that with planned out portion-controlled meals and snacks, you can enjoy your meals without feeling the need to over-indulge.
    3. Down-size your plate. Something as simple as choosing a smaller plate and cup or glass can help you to eat less. Filling up a smaller plate tricks your brain into thinking you're still getting a lot of food. You could find that you are actually satisfied with less food, and it might help prevent you from over-eating. Divide your plate into two; fill one half with salad and vegetables (or fruit you might have later) and the other half with protein (¼) and grains (¼). Add a cup of dairy foods, such as low-fat milk or yoghurt, on the side.
    4. Move more. Sitting in the car, at work and at home isn't going to help your abdominal (tummy) muscles or your digestion. Get into the habit of adding simple and easy activities into your daily routine. Some changes you can make include using the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, putting the television remote farther away, parking your car at the other end of the superstore car park, going for a 15-minute walk in between meetings, or getting on a treadmill or exercise bike while watching your favourite TV show. Even walking up the escalator is better than standing still.
    5. Go low. You may have heard of the phrase “energy density” or “calorie dense”. In simple terms, this refers to the calories you get from a food according to how much it weighs. Your goal is to choose foods that are lower in energy density; foods that, weight for weight, have fewer calories (energy) than other foods. Energy or calorically dense foods have more calories and not enough nutrition – for example regular soda and doughnuts. Conversely, fruit and vegetables are low in energy density, followed closely by beans. If you want to see a list of foods so you can choose those which offer you a lower energy density, check out the British Nutrition Foundation's Feed yourself Fuller chart.

    Start your journey to a better you and a trimmer waist by following the five tips presented here. Small steps can become long term solutions leading to a lifetime of change.

    References

    1. Feed Yourself Full and Lose Weight. British Nutrition Foundation. N.p., 18 June 2009.
    2. Getting Started with MyPlate. ChooseMyPlate.gov. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Aug. 2012.
    3. Mann, Traci, et al. Medicare's Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer. American Psychologist 62.3 (2007): 220-33.

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